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Weingarten Realty Investors (WRI) – Weathering the Storm

Weingarten Realty Investors is a real estate investment trust (REIT) organization that owns and develops commercial properties in the U.S. Its diversified portfolio consists primarily of rental and lease properties totalling nearly 74 million square feet that the company either owns or leases.

WRI has shaken the confidence of some investors. As ratings from several sources continually drop, the future of the organization naturally comes into question. First quarter 2008 results sharply downgraded the stock in the eyes of many analysts. A faltering real estate market was cited as the culprit for smaller gains on property sales, as well as rapid depreciations. WRI reported an increase in vacancies among its many rental properties, an occurrence that simply cannot be avoided under the effects of such a choppy market.

WRI officials claim to have a grasp on the situation, stating the belief that the company’s net asset value has been seriously underestimated by analysts and investors alike. The fact remains; Weingarten Realty is one of the nation’s largest real estate investment trusts, with over 5,700 tenants. It is not heavily leveraged to any one side as its largest tenant accounts for a mere 3 percent of the firms total revenues. True, occupancy levels have taken a hit recently; however, they have never dropped below 90 percent in sixty years.

Despite continued warnings from analysts, Weingarten Realty is arguably one of the safest investments in the REIT sector. There are always going to be economic downturns, but they are historically followed by times of relative prosperity. Even the Great Depression, and the gripping terror that it caused, came to an end. Troubles within a struggling industry will eventually fade, and it looks like WRI will be waiting on the other side.

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